The cost of living in New York City can be so exorbitantly high that many residents will wrack their brains trying to think of ways that they can reduce their expenses. In addition, many residents may wonder how they can decrease the size of their carbon footprint while saving money. One solution for both of these problems that many people around the world are turning to is rooftop solar panels. However, this solution can be a difficult one to implement for many New York City residents who live in buildings that they do not personally own.
If a resident does not own their roof, they may not be able to simply walk onto it and install their own panels. However, they can work with the building’s other residents to petition the owner or manager to add solar panels to the structure. This process has been made even easier by the recent research that has been conducted by the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.
According to David Bragdon who is the director of that office, New York City could easily add thousands of megawatts of solar power. He also claims that the city has been working on making the permit process easier for residents and easing certain regulations to make adding panels more feasible for all sorts of structures.
His comments were made after the city paid $450,000 to the Lidar Company to perform a series of investigative flights over the city. During these flights, they took a number of pictures and collected a lot of data about the million plus buildings in the city to create a detailed map. The information that was collected shows details about the shapes, angles, and sizes of all of the rooftops in the city. Based on this map, over two-thirds of the roofs in this city are well suited to the addition of rooftop solar panels.
If panels were added to all of the roofs where they could possibly be added, they would generate enough power to create half of the city’s electricity needs during peak hours! The professionals who conducted these studies claim that they analyzed not only the rooftops themselves but also how the shading in each area would affect how well the panels would work if they were added.
When residents of New York City are interested in finding out about the specific nature of their building in regards to its potential for housing rooftop panels, they can visit an interactive version of the map that was created by the information collected by the Lidar Company. The map was paid for by the federal Department of Energy under their Solar America Cities Program and cost the city $210,000.
The map allows residents to view their building and analyze its potential to go solar. Interested residents can look at information about their offices, their homes, or even their friends’ homes. When they enter their address, they can discover a lot of relevant information on how that address would respond to the implementation of solar collecting panels.
For instance, they will discover how much solar energy could be produced on that particular roof. The estimates are based upon how much light the roof receives, how large it is, its angle, and other factors. They can also find out information on government programs including tax breaks and financial incentives. If they are gathering information to present to the building’s owner or manager, they may also be interested in looking at the section of the interactive map that includes detailed data on how much the solar panels would cost to install and how many years it would take the buildings’ owners to get that initial cost back through energy savings.
People who are curious about the environment may enjoy exploring other features of the interactive map. For instance, they can look at how much carbon dioxide they could avoid if their building implemented panels. They can also look at how many trees it would take to absorb that same amount of carbon dioxide.
One reason that some building owners shy away from installing panels is the regulations that surround such additions. However, the U.S. Department of Energy has recently eased many of these regulations. They have pledged to send $12 million to various organizations to help make the regulations surrounding the installation of rooftop panels easier to navigate.
When people live in a city like New York, they may often feel like they have limited control over some of their circumstances. For instance, they cannot simply add rooftop solar panels to their high rise as easily as someone could add them to the top of their barn in Iowa. However, with accurate information gathered from trustworthy sources, such as the map referred to above, they can easily convince their building owner or homeowner’s association to add these structures.